what every American needs to know about IfAmericansKnew.org
Click here for a printable version of this analysis This page was last updated: July 2 2007
Site Analysis This page is dedicated to analyzing the website www.IfAmericansKnew.org and pointing out and correcting all lies, inaccuracies, and distortions of the site.
NOTE: This page is NOT a personal attack against Alison. It is a critique of her website and her organization. This page encourages those who disagree with Alison and her organization to dispute the contents of her site in a civilized manner using the facts provided on this page, and STRONGLY DISCOURAGES any form of personal or physical attacks against Alison, anyone in her organization, or anyone supportive of her organization.
IfAmericansKnew is a site that exploits Palestinian suffering for purposes of demonizing Israel. IfAmericansKnew grossly misrepresents the situation in the middle east. In its mission statement the site says: “If Americans Knew is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inform and educate the American public on issues of major importance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media. Our current focus is the Israel/Palestine conflict” As we will see in this site analysis, IfAmericansKnew is actually the one unreporting, underreporting, and misreporting the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Contents of this Page
Aid to Israel/Palestine
The “Jewish-Only Roads”
Terrorist or Resistance Fighter?
Bulletin on Suicide Bombing
Prisoners Vs Hostages *NEW
Alison Weir, founder
Click HERE to see a criticism of this analysis
Alison is the founder if the anti-Israel site and organization, IfAmericansKnew. Alison spent one month in Gaza to observe the living conditions of the Palestinians. Alison had a first hand glimpse of the suffering that the Palestinians have been enduring, and she makes no hesitations in dramatizing it for propaganda. However, despite Alison’s extensive knowledge on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict she has failed to look deep enough into the conflict to understand why the Palestinians are suffering and living under miserable conditions. She blames Israel for the Palestinian’s suffering and totally disregards the Palestinians’ real enemies. Nowhere on her site does she mention the corruption of their former leader, Yessir Arafat. Alison makes no mention of the Palestinian terrorist groups who commit murder and terrorism against civilians in the name of the Palestinians which result in Israeli incursions into the territories. Weir makes no mention of the leaders of surrounding Arab nations that are fighting tooth and nail to keep the Israeli/Palestinian conflict going. She ONLY blames Israel for the Palestinians’ suffering. Alison is a very talented writer. It is too bad she has used her talent to promote bigotry and confusion on the middle east.
We are going to go through the many sections of the site to expose the inaccuracies and deceptions.
On the front page of IfAmericansKnew(ACCP) there are statistics such as “total Israeli/Palestinian deaths” and “total Israeli/Palestinian children killed” and “total Israeli/Palestinian houses demolished” etc. The statistics are meant to show that Palestinians are dying more and suffering more than the Israelis. They show that some 4100 Palestinians have been killed and “only” some 1020 Israelis have been killed. Or 943 Palestinian children killed and “only” 118 Israeli children killed (number of Israeli children killed actually dropped since March 2007 form 123).
This is directly from IfAmericansKnew:
1,023 Israelis and at least 4,160 Palestinians *have been killed since September 29, 2000.
*this used to say ‘Palestinians killed by Israelis’
118 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 943 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.
*since last update, the number of Israeli children actually dropped from 123
Weir mentions the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians, but the numbers she is using are misleading. One reason being that the Palestinian deaths were not always caused by Israel. The numbers she is using includes Palestinians killed by Palestinians It is estimated that at least 13% of Palestinians killed were killed by other Palestinians. It would be more fair to only count the innocent civilians killed on each side. According to B-Tselem, It is estimated that 70% of the Israelis killed in those numbers were innocent civilians, and around 47% of the Palestinians in those numbers were innocent civilians. If we go to the Palestinian numbers and take out the suicide bombers, the Palestinians killed by other Palestinians, the armed combatants, the terrorist leaders and all other non civilians, the 4160 would drop to around 1,955. Now lets do the same with the Israeli side. During a time of war the soldiers can be considered legitimate targets. It is estimated that 30% of the Israelis killed were soldiers and about 70% innocent civilians. The 1023 drops to about 715 (give or take). So in reality 1955 innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed and 715 innocent Israelis have been killed. That’s still a lot, but a lot more in perspective than IfAmericansKnew tries to portray. Now lets take a look at the circumstances of those deaths. Most Israelis died from suicide bombings or other terrorist attacks, where the attackers INTENTIONALLY targeted Israeli civilians. The majority of Palestinian civilian deaths were caused by the crossfire between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants and they were NOT intentionally targeted by Israel. This is not to say there haven’t been any incidents in which individuals in the Israeli army have intentionally killed innocent Palestinians. One of the major reasons the Israeli deaths are lower is because the Israeli government takes measures to protect its people, while the Palestinian government goes out of its way to have as many civilians killed as possible to use the deaths as propaganda. The PA and Hamas have been known to put legitimate military targets, such as weapons factories, near civilian locations, even schools, so when the Israeli army comes to take those factories down they would inevitably end up killing innocent civilians. The truth is that the Palestinians benefit with a higher death rate because they can use it as propaganda against Israel. There are many incentives for the Palestinian government to try and increase Palestinian causalities and they make no hesitation in doing so. While Israel, on the other end, has nothing to gain, and everything to lose by having innocent Palestinians killed.
Another statistic that IfAmericansKnew puts on its front page is about the house demolitions.
This is from the IfAmericansKnew website:
0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 4,170 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since September 29, 2000.
IfAmericansKnew is referring to Israel’s policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists, their families, and houses used for terrorist purposes as a deterrent against terrorism. What Weir doesn’t mention on the site is the only time a Palestinian house would be demolished is when the house belongs to a terrorist or a family member of a terrorist or if the house was used to promote terrorism. (Israel does have a practice of demolishing homes that were built without a “permit”. This practice is wrong, but happens far less than IfAmericansKnew implies). Israel NEVER randomly bulldozes houses just for fun as this site implies and they NEVER bulldoze homes when people are inside. The ONLY purpose of this policy is to create a deterrent for would be suicide bombers and terrorists. This statistic seems to imply that the Palestinians have never ‘demolished’ an Israeli home. IfAmericansKnew doesn’t mention that Palestinians constantly launch kassams and missiles at Israeli homes, including homes in Israel-proper. The missiles may not cause as much damage as bulldozer, but many Israeli homes have been hit and one must also take into account the feeling of terror that Israelis never know when a missile is going to hit. Off course the Palestinians haven’t ‘demolished’ Israeli homes. They don’t have the means to. Imagine if Caterpillar gave the Palestinians bulldozers. Since many Palestinian fighters have no hesitation destroying houses of Israeli civilians with kassams and mortars, there can be no doubt that if they had bulldozers, they would take them into Israeli towns and bulldoze any house they can find with or without people in them. It is the intention that counts. If the Palestinians had the means to demolish homes, they would.
The front page IfAmericansKnew has a statistic about U.N. resolutions targeting Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none.
Take a look at some of the “65 resolutions” the site claims targeted Israel(source):
9. Resolution 250: “..’calls’ on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem”
10. Resolution 251: “…’deeply deplores’ Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250″
16. Resolution 267: “…’censures’ Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem&”;
18. Resolution 271: “…’condemns’ Israel’s failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem”;
22. Resolution 298: “…’deplores’ Israel’s changing of the status of Jerusalem
40. Resolution 476: …’reiterates’ that Israel’s claims to Jerusalem are ‘null and void’
Notice any repeats?
19. Resolution 279: …’demands’ withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon
20. Resolution 280: ….’condemns’Israeli’s attacks against Lebanon
21. Resolution 285: …’demands’ immediate Israeli withdrawal form Lebanon
23. Resolution 313: …’demands’ that Israel stop attacks against Lebanon
24. Resolution 316: ..’condemns’ Israel for repeated attacks on Lebanon
26. Resolution 332: …’condemns’ Israel’s repeated attacks against Lebanon
27. Resolution 337: …’condemns’ Israel for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty
28. Resolution 347: …’condemns’ Israeli attacks on Lebanon
29. Resolution 425: …’calls’ on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon
30. Resolution 427: …’calls’ on Israel to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon
33. Resolution 450: …’calls’ on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon
36. Resolution 467: …’strongly deplores’ Israel’s military intervention in Lebanon
45. Resolution 498: …’calls’ on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon
46. Resolution 501: ..’calls’ on Israel to stop attacks against Lebanon and withdraw its troops
47. Resolution 509: …’demands’ that Israel withdraw its forces forthwith and unconditionally from Lebanon
49. Resolution 517: …’censures’ Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions and demands that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon
53. Resolution 587: ;..’takes note’ of previous calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and urges all parties to withdraw
17 resolutions all saying the same thing: withdraw from Lebanon. I think they heard you the first sixteen times!
34. Resolution 452: ..’calls’ on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories
35. Resolution 465: …’deplores’ Israel’s settlements and asks all member states not to assist Israel’s settlements program
37. Resolution 468: ..’calls’ on Israel to rescind illegal expulsions of two Palestinian mayors and a judge and to facilitate their return
38. Resolution 469: …’strongly deplores’ Israel’s failure to observe the council’s order not to deport Palestinians;
42. Resolution 484: …’declares it imperative’ that Israel re-admit two deported Palestinian mayors.
56. Resolution 607: …’calls’ on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention
57. Resolution 608: …’deeply regrets’ that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians&”;
58. Resolution 636: …’deeply regrets’ Israeli deportation of Palestinian civilians
59. Resolution 641: …’deplores’ Israel’s continuing deportation of Palestinians
61. Resolution 673: …’deplores’ Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations
62. Resolution 681: …’deplores’ Israel’s resumption of the deportation of Palestinians
63. Resolution 694: …’deplores’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return
64. Resolution 726: …’strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians
65. Resolution 799: …’strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of 413 Palestinians and calls for their immediate return.
a whopping 12 times they make the same resolution condemning Israel’s deportation of Palestinians!
Notice how after you take apart the 65 resolutions listed on the site you find that the resolutions are saying the same things over and over again. Therefore it is misleading to say “at least 65 resolutions” targeting Israel. There is also the issue of the U.N.’s marked bias against Israel at play here, but I will not go into it in this site analysis.
Aid to Israel/Palestine (this needs to be updated, check back soon)
IfAmericansKnew puts a statistic on the front page which is meant to represent U.S. aid to Israel and the Palestinians.
This is directly from the site:
The U.S. gives $15,139,178 per day to the Israeli government and military and $232,290 per day to Palestinian NGOs.
The site claims Israel receives $15 million a day! That comes to $5.5 billion a year! Their source for this was washington-report.org, which is a heavily bias anti-Israel and anti-American website. The TRUE amount of annual aid that Israel receives is currently $2.6 billion. That comes to $7.1 million a day. IfAmericansKnew misrepresents our annual aid to Israel by nearly doubling the true figure. One item about U.S. aid to Israel that IfAmericansKnew misreports is that Israel is required to spend 75% of all aid within the U.S. So our aid money ends up being recycled back into the country. I am kind of curious to know why they didn’t mention this important fact about the aid money. Another thing IfAmericansKnew does to misrepresent the numbers is they include loans, and loan guarantees into that huge number. Loans are paid back, so it is not fair to include this into the total aid numbers. As of right now, Israel has never defaulted on a loan to us, although there have been a couple of loans in which congress decided to turn into grants. Our loan guarantees to Israel, are simply guarantees to other countries in which Israel wants to borrow from. Some countries may not feel comfortable giving a small country like Israel a loan, and we agree to pay if Israel defaults. Israel has never defaulted on any of these loans with any of those countries, therefore this has cost us nothing, It is not fair for IfAmericansKnew to include these numbers into the aid figures. IfAmericansKnew also fails to mention why we give such substantial amount of aid to Israel. They attribute it to lobby groups such as AIPAC. They don’t mention it is because of Israel’s strategic importance to the U.S. and for Israel being a democracy. As for aid to the Palestinians, the site says they get $232,000 a day and that comes to about $85 million a year. However, according to the BBC, in 2005 the Palestinians received $400 million in aid from the U.S. IfAmericansKnew doubles our actual aid to Israel, but only mentions 1/5 of our actual aid to the Palestinians. IfAmericansKnew also misleads its readers by not mentioning that the Palestinians get billions of dollars of aid from the rest of the world, while at the same time Israel gets 0 in aid from any other country besides the U.S. (although Israel does receive donations from various Jewish groups). The Palestinians get at least an additional $600 million from the E.U., as well as aid from just about every country in the world (outside of the Arab/Muslim world). So annual assistance from the whole world to Israel and the Palestinians is not that much different, since the Palestinians get a huge chunk of aid from the rest of the world while Israel ONLY gets aid from the U.S.
In the ‘history’ section of IfAmericansKnew, they have a very incomplete and inaccurate assessment of the true history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
For example, the site states:
“… in the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as ‘;Zionists’, this group consisted of an extremist minority of the world Jewish population. They wanted to create a Jewish homeland, and at first considered locations in Africa and South America, before finally settling on Palestine for their colony. … more and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine many with the express wish of taking over the land for an exclusively Jewish state…”
The truth is the first wave of Jewish immigration that the site is referring too (which started in 1870) was in no way politically or nationally motivated. It was a large group of Jewish refugees from various countries around the world attempting to escape persecution. At that time they had no intention of creating a state. In fact the concept of Zionism wasn’t even started until 1890, so it would have been impossible that the first wave of Jewish refugees into Palestine had intentions of building a state. Even during the second wave of Jewish immigration in the early 1900’s, most refugees simply wanted to escape persecution and start a new life. It is a total distortion to put it any other way. And even at that time it had very little following.
IfAmericansKnew claims the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict, as we know it today, is being caused by:
“…First, there is the inevitably destabilizing effect of trying to maintain an ethnically preferential state, particularly when the exclusionist entity is of largely colonial origin.
“…Second, Israel’s continued confiscation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza is being resisted by the Palestinian inhabitants.”
They are wrong by both counts. First of all, Israel is not an ethnically preferential state. Between 20-25% of Israel’s population is non-Jewish. There are many different ethnic and religious groups in Israel, such as Druze, Bedouin, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and even atheists :). All citizens of Israel, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin are treated equally before the law and are given full voting rights. The law gives no preferential treatment to Jews. The ONLY advantage the state of Israel has for Jews is the law of return. Any Jew in any part of the world is guaranteed Israeli citizenship. This is no different then the law of return that many Muslim countries have, or that Germany had after world war 2 for its displaced German citizens, or the law of return that Russia had. This doesn’t mean a non-Jew can’t get Israeli citizenship, just that a Jew can get it easier.
As for the site’s second allegation about Israel’s occupation being the cause of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Palestinians have been offered their own state many times throughout history. The first time, in 1937, the Peel Commission laid out a plan which would createa Jewish state the fraction of the size of Israel, and an enormous Arab state in Palestine. (see map HERE) The Zionists, while disappointed, accepted this plan, and the Arabs flatly rejected it. Again in 1947, UN Resolution 181 offered the Palestinians 45% of the land; the Jews accepted it, and the arabs rejected it. The Palestinians continue to reject resolution 181, which is meant to create their own state. Again in 1993, 2000, and 2003, the Palestinians screwed up every chance of statehood and autonomy on their own land. The Gaza pullout in 2005 offered the Palestinians a chance to make peace with Israel and eventually lead to a state, instead the Palestinians used Gaza as a launching pad for more attacks against Israel and kidnapping attempts. The Palestinians would have land and their own state if they would recognize Israel and stop terrorism.
The “Jewish-only Roads”
IfAmericansKnew makes many references to “Jewish-only” roads that are built on Palestinian land and supposedly is only allowed to be driven on by Jews. Here is one example from the site: “as [the Palestinians] are not allowed to live in Israeli settlements, drive on Jewish-only roads connecting these settlements” IfAmericansKnew makes reference to this “Jewish-only” road many times throughout the site. The Israelis have built roads on Palestinians territory in which the Palestinians are banned from driving on. (And for the record TheMiddleEastNow.com condemns Israel for this policy) However, the roads are NOT “Jewish-only”. People of all religions and ethnicities are allowed to travel on these roads as long as they are Israeli citizens or foreigners. While one may not condone Israel’s policy of banning Palestinians from driving on roads built on Palestinian land, it is not fair and downright inaccurate to claim that the roads are “Jewish-only” as IfAmericansKnew does.
IfAmericansKnew mentions at least a hundred times that Israel ‘tortures’ innocent Palestinians. Here is an example:
“…I talked to men who had been tortured…”
In past decades there have been many reports of Palestinians being tortured by Israelis. Israel has used interrogation techniques similar to that of Abu Graihb, such as hooding prisoners, shaking them, playing loud music, etc. These have been documented by many human rights groups and even admitted by the Israeli government. However in 1999 the Israeli supreme court issued a ruling making it illegal for Israel to use any form of torture against anyone for any reason even for purposes of attaining life saving information. All forms of torture including ‘pressure positions’, hooding, and sleep deprivation were outlawed. The supreme court acknowledged that this ruling would restrict interrogation techniques for interrogators and that, in turn, could cost the lives of Israeli citizens. This ruling made Israel the ONLY country in the world whose supreme court has specifically outlawed torture even when it might save lives. Not even America has done that yet. That’s in deep contrast to many of Israel’s neighbors who constantly engage in torture of even political prisoners! Even the Palestinian Authority regularly engages in torture against Palestinians!. Yet IfAmericansKnew, which is supposed to be a “pro-Palestinian” site, mysteriously makes no mention of Arafat and Hamas’ frequent torture of Palestinians. Since the 1999 supreme court decision, the abusive techniques used by Israel have been greatly reduced (there have been a few reports about violations). IfAmericansKnew, once again, misleads its readers by implying the torture techniques are continuing at the same or increasing frequency to this day. The site has a source for the above quote. http://www.ppsmo.org/ewebsite/Reports/Israeli%20Tourture%20July%202002.htm. First of all, this is a dead link now. Secondly the site belongs to a group calling itself “Palestinian Prisoner Society”. Judging by the dead link, it can be implied that many of the ‘stories’ on the site are old, perhaps before 1999. We should also remember that many (but certainly not all) Palestinian prisoners have been known to fabricate details of their imprisonment for purposes of propaganda. This fabrication practice is encouraged by Palestinian extremist groups and many others in the Arab world.
Terrorist or Resistance Fighter?
What is possibly the most disturbing aspect of IfAmericansKnew is they appear to condone Palestinian terrorism. They refer to terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad as resistance fighters and glorify their deeds. The site has an article called “The Palestinian Resistance: Its Legitimate Right and Moral Duty” by Samah Jabr. The author of this article refers to the suicide bombings as resistance. Terrorism is defined as: “the unlawful use or threatened use of force by a person or an organized group against innocent people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons” If the Palestinians were attacking the Israeli soldiers that were enforcing the occupation, or the government of Israel, THEN their acts could be considered “resistance”. However since the majority of the Palestinian attacks directly target innocent Israeli civilians who have nothing to do with their government’s policies, and since their acts do nothing to end the occupation and are meant solely for intimidation, these acts cannot be classified as legitimate resistance and can only be viewed as terrorism. Lets go though this article line by line and point out its inaccuracies and distortions.
“The occupation of Palestine is based on a 19th century ideology that denied the very existence of the Palestinian people and pursued a colonial agenda asserting divine claims to a “land without a people.”
This claim is incorrect. Before 1948 there was no such thing as a Palestinian. And there was no national movement by the Palestinians until 1967. This analysis already established earlier that the creation Israel was not ‘colonial’ since when the Jews began immigrating to current day Israel in the 1870’s there was no idea of Zionism yet.
“International law grants a people fighting an illegal occupation the right to use “all necessary means at their disposal” to end their occupation”
Suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism do nothing to end the occupation or help the Palestinian people, and the militants know that. Their purpose is to coerce and intimidate the Israeli people. It was the so called “resistance” that brought the Israeli soldiers back IN to the territories to begin with. Whoever is organizing these attacks against Israel knows by now that they wont end the occupation or any other of the Palestinian’s problems by using terrorism.
“Armed resistance was used in the American Revolution, the Afghan resistance against Russia (which the U.S. supported), the French resistance against the Nazis, and even in the Nazi concentration camps, or, more famously, in the Warsaw Ghetto. Palestinian resistance arises out of a similarly oppressive situation.”
So this writer is actually comparing Israeli soldiers to Nazis. One thing he is forgetting is in all those examples: never did the “oppressed peoples” intentionally kill civilians of the other side. During WW2 many Jews made attempts to fight the Nazi oppression. However not in ONE SINGLE CIRCUMSTANCE did a Jew EVER kill an innocent German civilian. Same thing with the French and Poles who were under Nazi oppression. During the American revolution, the colonists may have attacked British soldiers who were trying to rule them, but NEVER did a colonist attack a British civilian. This is unlike the Palestinian “resistance” groups who regularly target innocent Israeli civilians. It appears the author is either unaware of documented history or is making a blatant attempt to distort it.
“Violent resistance arises from an inhuman military occupation, one that levies punishment arbitrarily and without trial, denies the possibility of livelihood and systematically destroys the prospects of a future.”
He’s got it the other way around. It is the violent “resistance” by extremist groups that has caused the Palestinian’s suffering. Had this “resistance” not started in 2000 Israel would not have reoccupied the territories
The basic message that the site is trying to give is that they believe the American media is heavily bias towards Israel. They use the “bias media” to justify why Americans are “unaware” of the outrageous claims IfAmericansKnew makes against Israel. Weir claims in all her “media analysis'” that major news media outlets in America under-report Palestinian deaths and over-report Israeli deaths. She accuses the media of censoring news that could be considered critical of Israel. She claims that news reports on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict fail to discuss the history of the conflict. She goes even further to claim that Israel tries to intimidate journalists (truth is the other way around, see below) IfAmericansKnew does several media analysis’ on various media sources to observe reporting patterns on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. One such analysis was done on the New York Times. After reviewing her study, it was clear that there were some serious flaws in the way she conducted her research.
New York Times Study
The 2005 New York Times study claims “the Times reported Israeli deaths at rates up to seven to ten times greater than Palestinian deaths,” and that this discrepancy is “based on the ethnicity of the person killed.” It further purports that “Times reporting regularly gave readers the impression that equal numbers of people on both sides were being killed – or that more Israelis were being killed,” and that “the majority of Palestinian deaths … are never reported by the Times at all.”
The bulk of the study is based only on the headline and first paragraph – often just one sentence – of New York Times news reports, and completely ignores the remaining text of the articles. In other words, most of the news reports condemned by the study are not even read.
Only by ignoring most of the news coverage in this way can Weir reach her conclusions. Take, for example, the declaration that “Times reporting regularly gave readers the impression that equal numbers of people on both sides were being killed.” This claim is quickly disproved with a glance at the newspaper’s full coverage, since Times stories frequently cite casualty figures.
During the first year of violence (one of Weir’s “study periods”), Times readers were told:
At least 20 Palestinians and 10 Israelis have died in a cycle of violence that has barely abated since the cease-fire took effect on June 13. Since the Palestinian uprising began last September, at least 479 Palestinians, 124 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed. (“Israeli Tanks Shell Palestinian Police Posts in Response to Attacks”, 7/12/01)
The death toll in this conflict is nearing 700. Though figures are somewhat imprecise, the count is put at about 525 Palestinians, 155 Israeli Jews and 14 Israeli Arabs, whose casualties came almost entirely in the intifada’s earliest days. (“Israelis and Palestinians Prepare for a Long Struggle,” 8/17/01)
At least 580 Palestinians and 167 Israelis have been killed since a Palestinian uprising began a year ago. (“More Violence, and Western Peace Efforts, in the Middle East,” 9/18/01)
Clearly, the Times does not mislead readers about the number of fatalities sustained by both sides. If anything, it would be more accurate to say that such casualty breakdowns downplay Israeli deaths – readers are informed that more Palestinians than Israelis have died, but are not told that most of the Israeli victims were non-combatants targeted by Palestinians, whereas Palestinian fatalities were overwhelmingly combatants or Palestinians killed by other Palestinians.
Weir also falsely states that most Palestinian deaths “are never reported by the Times at all,” again basing this contention only on the headline and first sentence or two of news stories. In fact, Weir’s own numbers belie this claim. In the one month sub-study where If Americans Knew did actually examine news stories from start to finish, the group found the Times reported 82 percent of Palestinians killed. That is, Weir’s statistics show that most Palestinian deaths are in fact reported in the newspaper.
Weir further manipulates the data by treating an attack mentioned more than once as more than one death. So when the Times mentioned the killing of a 3-year-old Israeli in front of his kindergarten both on a front page blurb and in a full story on page six, Weir counts this as the Times reporting on two deaths. And when the killing is mentioned twice in the following days’ stories about Israel’s reaction to the slaying, Weir then claims that the Times reported on “400 percent” of Israeli children’s deaths in this period of time.
Since Palestinian violence is often the immediate cause of Israeli counter-actions, the Times often reports the slaying of Israelis, and then mentions the attack again in a story about Israel’s reaction to the killing. For example, the opening paragraph of a Jan. 15, 2005 story stated:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered Friday that all government officials cut ties with the Palestinian Authority and that the Gaza Strip be sealed until Palestinian leaders moved to curb terrorism. He issued the order a day after Palestinian militants killed six Israelis at a checkpoint on the Gaza border.
Since the previous day’s report broke news of this attack on the checkpoint, the attack was cited twice by the Times. Weir’s study, then, misleadingly counts these two news stories, each referring to the killing of six Israelis, as having reported on the death of twelve Israelis.
The above is just an example of how Weir distorts the actual articles to create the impression that the news medias are bias toward Israel. Weir uses similar techniques to manipulate data in many of her other media analysis’. She accuses the American media of distorting information to Israel’s benefit, when the reality is SHE is the one distorting and manipulating information. While Weir over reports Israeli “wrongdoings” she almost NEVER mentions Palestinian violence (unless she doesn’t view that as a wrongdoing). All the articles on her site are negative towards Israel, while not a single one is negative about the Palestinians. Nowhere on the site does she mention Palestinians who murder innocent Israeli women and children. Nowhere on the site does she mention the ruthless torture of Palestinians by the PA or Hamas. The site’s stated purpose is to: “inform and educate the American public on issues of major importance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media” And after all we’ve mentioned in this analysis of the site, who is the one unreporting, underreporting and misreporting? Does Weir really think she is fair and balanced? Does she really think she is giving both sides of the conflict? How is she any better than what she is condemning?
This coming soon… check back!
On one page of IfAmericansKnew.org this statement is written: “…we recommend that you visit the Independent of London, Ha’aretz Daily, or Al-Jazeera. All three of these international news sources provide more accurate depictions of the current situation in Israel/Palestine, although they still do not provide all the information that American readers need to know.” Is she serious? Weir is actually endorsing the partisan Al Jazeera. Not only is she endorsing it, she is even saying it is not anti-Israel enough! For those who don’t know, Aljazeera is an Arab-based cable station known for its one-sided anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric. The website of Aljazeera is filled with wacky conspiracy theories such as Zarqawi has already been caught and Nick Berg was killed by American forces as well as many others. Aljazeera glorifies attacks against our soldiers in Iraq and suicide bombings by Palestinian terrorists. Many threatening Al Qaida video tapes get aired first on Aljazeera. To say that Aljazeera provides “accurate descriptions of the current situation” makes me further question Weir’s credibility on this issue.